NICOLAS Sarkozy has sparked a race row in France after questioning whether he should be allowed to call people “monkeys” during a debate about the N-word.
The 65-year-old former president initially caused outrage during a televised discussion in which he said the word “n****r” should still be allowed in certain contexts.
The debate was prompted by a decision to change the title of the French edition of Agatha Christie’s 1939 novel “Ten Little N****rs”, which for decades has been published in Britain as “And Then There Were None”.
The French edition will now be titled “Ils Etaient Dix” or “They Were Ten”.
“This is the will of the elites who pinch their noses,” said Sarkozy, adding that they are “like monkeys who listen to no-one”.
“I no longer know if we have the right to say monkey.” he said.
“What do we say now? The ten little soldiers? This progress society?”
Sarkozy was one of a number of panelists to appear in the debate on the TMC channel’s Daily programme.
“We perhaps have the right to say monkeys, without insulting anyone,” he said.
MEP Yannick Jadot posted the video of the ex-president’s TV performance on Twitter, under the words: “Nicolas Sarkozy in the midst of a racist shipwreck.”
Danièle Obono, a black MP for a constituency in Paris, said Sarkozy was a “small ex-president of the French Republic” who was a “great inspirer of the Right, extreme Right, and uninhibited far-Right”.
Ms Obono, who was this month portrayed as a chained slave in conservative weekly Valeurs Actuelles [Current Values], said such behaviour was typical of an institutionally racist country.
The row comes as Sarkozy prepares to next month become the first former president in the history of modern France to be tried for corruption linked to his time in office.
He faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty during the 17-day process, which starts on October 5.
The comes after the France’s Court of Cassation rejected Sarkozy’s appeal against accusations that he tried to bribe a judge.
Mr Sarkozy, who denies any wrongdoing, is said to have tried to obtain classified legal information from magistrate Gilbert Azibert in 2014.
The Paris home Mr Sarkozy shares with his third wife, the model and pop singer Carla Bruni, 52, was raided by fraud squad officers within a week of him standing down as president in 2012.
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This was because French presidents are immune from prosecution while in office, and they can only be charged once they leave office.
Mr Sarkozy faces trial and prison in a range of other sleaze scandals, too, including taking back handers to help Qatar win the 2022 football World Cup, and money from the late Libyan dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.